High School Sports

He doesn’t take time off. Oakdale sophomore Henry Porter wants it all

He wakes up and either lifts weights or goes for a run.

Then, Oakdale sophomore wrestler Henry Porter eats and goes to school, takes part in wrestling practice, comes home and rests for a little, and then either goes for a run again or practices in his makeshift wrestling room in his basement with his dad, Kyle.

He enjoys it all.

“Its basically my job,” Porter said. “I do schoolwork and wrestling. That’s my job ... to get a higher education in college and compete higher.”

So far, so good for Porter, who is the state’s No. 1-ranked wrestler in his weight class (132) by California Wrestler and finished second as a freshman at the CIF State Meet last year.

“He took advantage of his opportunity last year and made the state final,” Oakdale coach Steve Strange said. “What makes him so special is some kids would take that and be content with it. Him making the state finals has made him even hungrier. He is seeking the opportunities to go and do everything he can do.”

For Porter, wrestling is in his blood: There are 16 state medals in his ancestry.

Dad Kyle Porter was a two-time state champion at Hughson in 1991 and 1992. Henry’s uncle, Cliff Acosta, was a four-time state medalist. Kyle’s father, Doug, was a long-time wrestling coach at Hughson as well. His uncle, Aaron Porter, also was a state medalist.

“On both sides of the family, we have wrestled for three generations,” Kyle Porter said.

Henry said he grew up going to tournaments with his dad, who also coached at Hughson.

“I would be with him all the time watching his guys wrestle and just hanging out in the wrestling room,” Henry said.

In the basement of the house, Henry and Kyle go over moves and watch wrestling videos together.

The moves Henry has been taught are “old stuff that they used to do back in the day” he said.

“He was born and bred to wrestle,” said Strange, who also wrestled at Hughson. “It’s exciting to see it come into fruition.”

Henry started wrestling when he was 5 and wrestled in middle school while playing football before giving up the sport in high school.

“It’s not an overnight thing,” Strange said. “He has been at this for a long time like a lot of the guys. At 12 years old, you didn’t know his potential. Even last year, he took some losses, came in ranked 10th and then made the finals at the state meet.”

Al Fontes, who is an editor with the California Wrestler and is a California Wrestling Hall-of-Fame committee board member, said one of Porter’s biggest strengths is his ability to navigate through tough tournaments. Henry recently finished fifth at the Doc Buchanan Invitational and eighth at the Walsh Jesuit Ironman Tournament, both top tournaments in the nation.

“He has the mental fortitude,” Fontes said. “There are a lot of good wrestlers, but there are not a lot that can mentally and physically get through tough competitions. You’ve got to be able to mentally pick up the pieces, and Henry has that capability.”

Kyle, who said Henry was injured in both of those meets, said his son is better than him when the two-time state champion was his age.

“His technical skills are a lot better,” Kyle said. “They are learning folkstyle wrestling at a young age, and then they become masters of it. Wrestlers’ technical levels are so far beyond what our generation’s were.”

Henry’s career goals remain lofty:

“Wrestling in college, become an All-American and a four-time national champion,” he said. “That’s the main goal. Then I am going to try and become an Olympic team member and get to the Olympics and medal.”

Even Henry’s spare time is consumed with wrestling: Twice a week, he teaches wrestling to kids from the ages of 7 to 13.

It really is eat, sleep and wrestle for Henry Porter.

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Julian A. Lopez has been covering local sports for The Modesto Bee since August 2018. He graduated from Arizona State in 2016 with a BA in Journalism.